An elementary school student steps off her bus in the afternoon, ducks out of sight and dies when the bus pulls away and runs over her.
That scenario is intimately familiar in Columbia County, where 5-year-old Aleana Johnson died under those circumstances last year. Unfortunately, its been repeated in rural Walton County, where an 8-year-old died last week when she was struck by her school bus.
Adding to the tragedy is the fact that Georgias Legislature this year failed to pass a law, written in the wake of Aleanas death, that could help improve bus safety.
It makes me angry, says state Rep. Joey Brush, R-Appling, who sponsored Aleanas Law on behalf of the Johnson family. I told them there would be another death, and now it has happened.
Perhaps if the death of Aleana wasnt enough to convince lawmakers of the need for the legislation - which includes improved bus loading and unloading guidelines - then maybe last weeks death of MaryBeth Meeler will get their attention.
According to press reports, the Social Circle Elementary School second-grader, eerily like Aleana last January, had just walked in front of her bus when she stooped to pick up a book shed dropped. The driver apparently never saw her when she pulled away, and didnt know the bus had struck MaryBeth until the girls brother - who had also gotten off the bus - frantically caught the drivers attention.
Another death, surely, should be enough to get the attention of the Democrats who run Georgias Legislature, and who stubbornly bottled up most legislation this year in an effort to keep controversial items off the floor.
Aleanas Law was just one bill that died during the session. The bill was pawned off on a study committee, ostensibly so concerns over possible extra expense from the bills bus safety measures could be assessed. In reality, lawmakers wanted to keep the lid on legislation that could provide election-year ammunition for Republicans.
MaryBeths death, unfortunately, provides exactly that ammunition. I stood in front of the legislators, and they did not pass my law, says Christy Johnson, Aleanas mother. There is no reason that little girl should have died.
There also is no reason Aleanas Law should have died, either. Partisan, election-year politics may get the blame, but that wont comfort another family grieving over the loss of a child.
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